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Park downs Woods to advance to WAPL semis

BANDON DUNES, Ore. – Cheyenne Woods’ quarterfinal loss at the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links got to her not just because she wanted to add another USGA championship trophy to the family collection. The emotions ran deep because she played so poorly.

Woods was 10 over through 16 holes at Bandon Dunes’ Old Macdonald track. She lost 3-and-2 to Annie Park with a three-putt on the last green. Woods slapped her putter in disgust.

“It was the worst I’ve played almost all year,” said Woods, who was medalist. “I think I hit one good shot.”

Woods, a Wake Forest senior and the niece of Tiger Woods, made her WAPL debut this week. Her 16-year-old opponent, Park, however, is playing in her fifth WAPL. Park felt the nerves on the couple holes and found herself 2 down. She took control on the seventh hole and never looked back.

“I thought ‘Oh my gosh I have to wake up,’ ” Park said. “I started to be comfortable again.”

Park will be a junior in high school and counts Annika Sorenstam as her golf idol. Her mother/caddie introduced her to the game.

“I didn’t like it at first,” Park said, “but when I started to win tournaments I started to like the pressure of the game.” 

As for Woods, things will turn around soon enough. Her next stop this summer is Las Vegas, where she’ll celebrate her 21st birthday.

The closest quarterfinal match in terms of friends/competition was between UCLA seniors Brianna Do and Stephanie Kono. The pair met at last year’s WAPL and Do came out on top. This time around the match went to the 18th green, and Do had a 1-up advantage. After Kono failed to convert an 8-foot birdie putt, she conceded Do’s birdie putt of 2 feet. 

“We’re still friends, but it’s my opponent at the same time,” Do said. “We exchanged jokes here and there.”

Do didn’t make the starting five that won the NCAA Championship in May. Motivated to get her game in order, Do began working with a good friend who lives down the street, 1998 U.S. Junior champ James Oh. The WAPL marks the first time Do has competed in a tournament since March. Oh has helped Do hit the ball farther and higher.

“The swing changes are starting to feel good and I’m getting my confidence back,” she said. 

For Kono, this marked her eighth and possibly final WAPL championship. She’ll go to the first stage of LPGA Q-School later this month. 

“I think if (Do) keeps it going she could go all the way,” Kono said. “She definitely pushed me to play better today.” 

Do wasn’t the only successful Bruin. Tiffany Lua trounced Virginia’s Brittany Altomare, 7 and 6, to advance to the semifinals. She’ll meet Marissa Dodd, an incoming freshman at Wake Forest who took down Scotland’s Sally Watson, 1 up.

Dodd, a talkative 17-year-old from Allen, Texas, is making her WAPL debut this week. Her only other match play experience came at the 2010 U.S. Girls’ Junior. She’s used to playing in the wind and drives it long off the tee.  

‘I wanted to make it into match play, which I did, so everything from here on out is cherry on top,” Dodd said.

Lua, by contrast, has played in 21 USGA events, including last year’s Curtis Cup.

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